American Airlines Sydney to Los Angeles flights to resume with new Boeing 777

The world's biggest airline will fly its newest plane when it returns to Sydney next month. 

American Airlines, which has not flown to Australia since 1992, brought its new Boeing 777 to Sydney on Friday to launch its new flights to Los Angeles.

The flights are part of a joint venture with Qantas on trans-Pacific flights to continental US, which will go beyond a codeshare agreement and involve revenue sharing.

American's new 777s are the latest, upgraded planes to begin flights to Australia. US airlines have previously had a poor reputation among Australian travellers, with old planes, a lack of personal entertainment screens and substandard food failing to impress.

This won't be the case with American's offering, which features crisp seatback screens, a meal service that has been improved to meet the standard set by Qantas, as well as on-board Wi-Fi (for a charge) and power for personal devices in every seat.

American's new 777 aircraft feature what could be considered three and a half different classes. There are eight first class seats, 52 business class and 250 economy seats on board. Of the 250 economy seats, 30 are 'Main Cabin Extra - seats at the front of the economy cabin, plus extra leg room and priority boarding.

The economy class cabin is laid out in a 3-4-3 configuration with a seat pitch of 31-32 inches (79-81cm) and a tight width of 17 inches (43cm) - half an inch smaller than most other carriers on the trans-Pacific route.

American joins United Airlines in bringing its newest aircraft to Australia. United started flying Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners to Melbourne in October last year, creating the world's longest Dreamliner route.

Fernand Fernandez, Vice President of Global Marketing for American Airlines said consolidation of the US aviation industry in recent years, including the merger of American and US Airways to create the world's biggest airline, had allowed US carriers to establish a stronger business footing and start investing in their products.

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"Over the next two years we're going to be investing over $2 billion dollars in the customer experience," he said. "The amount of content in entertainment the aircraft can provide - you're able to circumnavigate the Earth 24 times without seeing the same movie or TV show. With a journey time of 15-plus hours, customers are looking for ways to stay entertained."

The new entertainment systems will feature 250 movies, 160 TV shows and more than 350 music selections and games.

American Airlines chairman and CEO Doug Parker said that things have changed since the last time American flew to Australia.

"We are building a new airline at American," he said. "Those of you from Australia who have known American in the past, please know that it is much better today than it has been in the past.

"We are bringing on a [new] airplane about every four days at American Airlines, almost all of those replacing older aircraft. A re-fleeting that has never been seen before in modern aviation."

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, who launched the joint venture at Sydney Airport with Parker, said US tourist numbers to Australia were booming, assisted by the falling Australian dollar.

"This is a boom time for American tourism in Australia. More than half-a-million Americans visited Australia last financial year, spending over three billion dollars in the process," he said.

Joyce said that Qantas would be returning to San Francisco with direct flights, a move that was made possible through the American Airlines joint venture.

American Airlines will fly from Sydney to LA daily from December 19. Qantas will begin Sydney to San Francisco flights on December 18, just 747 jumbo jets.

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The writer travelled to Sydney as a guest of Qantas and American Airlines.

See also: Japan's first home-grown passenger jet takes first flight
See also: Emirates removes first-class to create world's biggest passenger jet

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